Looking back: the best gift of 2015

2014 was one of the worst years of my life, a year when I nearly died but survived through the help of God, good friends and family.
2015 was one of the saddest years, when I lost three special friends—Penny, Joey, and Chinky.

Penny, Joey, Chinky

We survived it too. I don’t really like December with all the traffic, hecticness and all the obligations. I merely go through it because I have to (no choice) and I have to do it well for my kids who deserve a happy childhood and Christmas, never mind me.
Although this new year I woke up with a lot of love in my heart. I experienced so much goodness this December—in Manila and in Tokyo—from God and other people. I am grateful for the love given to me—through the presents and well wishes.

As I look back to this holiday season, I think the best gift I received was a surprise visit from my brother whom I haven’t seen since 2014, when he decided to move his life to California.
My brother has always had an American dream and at the late age of 50, he decided to just go for it.
Win or fail, I fully support him, because I believe in dreams and buckets lists, no matter how late. Better late than never.

Me, Diday and Manolo at Manila Zoo
Me, my sister, and my brother at Manila Zoo

My brother and I were never close. We still aren’t. I was busy wrapping gifts in my pajamas when the doorbell rang and he came in unannounced. My husband was cooking my dinner and equally surprised.
In the Bible, there is the famous story of the Prodigal Son, who decided to leave home and go out on his own.
My brother is kind of like that because he decided to leave against others’ wishes. But he did it anyway. Now everything is OK.
But unlike the Prodigal Son, my brother has a good heart. Some people say he is the kindest sibling I have.
When my brother visited, it was as though he had died and come back to life. He only stayed for an hour and then he was gone.
I really want to visit him in the US maybe two summers from now, because this summer I really want to go to the Vatican with my boys.

Last night I dreamt of my brother, he had tears in his eyes. He was sad to leave.
When he left our house on December 22nd, it was the night before we left for Tokyo. I gave him a hug and told him I missed him. I actually cried when he left the house. So many things I wanted to say but couldn’t because we’re not close. But the love is there. I do love my brother and I know that God does too.
Among all the gifts, this means a lot to me because he gave me his time. How I wish I had one hour to spend with Penny, Chelo, my Lola. I’m just really glad my brother is alive.

How to get emergency glasses in Japan

Hello I’m back!
I’m in Japan. We decided to spend the Christmas holidays here.
I have this fear of December because it goes so fast. The traffic is horrendous. You’re under so much pressure to finish your shopping and gift list. You spend so much money. So much work piles up. You get so tired. Seriously tired. And you do everything to make the kids happy, to make sure they have a nice memory of it.
And so we went to Japan.

I had a chance to pack only a few hours before we left for the airport so I overpacked and I left some important things behind.
We flew via Delta. At first we booked JAL, but I made an error booking online that could not be fixed online. So I called Customer Service and spoke to rude (not nice) Japanese man, which shocks me every time it happens because I expect all Japanese to be polite (unlike in HK where it’s kind of expected—sorry but true).
So luckily I was able to cancel JAL and get a refund (rude guy helped me) and booked Delta.
Why do we love Delta? Because the staff is always nice to us.

Delta staff at Christmas

During our flight my son Ben lost his glasses. We tried everything to search for it. Three Delta staff practically dismanteled the seat and couldn’t find it. We prayed to St. Anthony. Nothing.
On our way out, I thanked the flight attendant who assisted us. I forgot to ask his name, but my son Chris took a video. This is why we fly Delta.

Most of us didn’t eat during the flight because the kids always look forward to eating at Narita.
This is their favorite thing which they look forward to.

shaka shaka chicken

So after passing Immigration and Customs, we went up the 3rd floor of Narita (bags and all) to eat McDonald’s.
My son Ben was feeling antsy without his glasses, but I know Japan had many quickie eyeglass shops, so I trusted God to help us. Look what we saw right next to McDonald’s!


They had really great frames too!


Best of all, the glasses would be ready after 20 minutes!! This man was so nice.
We ended up paying half of what we normally pay in Manila.


Note: We are planning to buy more glasses tomorrow in Osaka. The kids go through them like tissues!
So a bad thing turned into a good thing. God is really good.


Alaska Football Cup: A commitment to sports and nutrition

More than 20 years ago, Wilfred Steven Uytengsu and his wife Kerri were looking for a football tournament where their son Sean could compete in.
Uytengsu, president and chief executive officer of Alaska Milk Corp., thought that if they couldn’t find a tournament for Sean, perhaps the company could sponsor one and, in the process, help other kids.
Alaska, already a basketball supporter with a team in the PBA, teamed up with former Real Madrid player and Alabang Football School and Makati Football School founder and director Tomas Lozano to create the Alaska Football Cup.

Richard Bachman, Alaska CEO & President Wilfred Uytengsu, and Tomas Lozano
L-R: Alaska team manager Richard Bachman, Alaska CEO & President Wilfred Uytengsu, Tomas Lozano

Twenty years later, the Alaska Football Cup for youth, ages 7-17 is the longest running football grassroots development program in the country. Among the former Alaska Football Cup players who have excelled in the sport are Chieffy Caligdong and Aly Borromeo.

“I didn’t think we would go beyond three years. It’s really a testament to the partnership and perseverance of Tomas. I’m very happy that we were given the chance to help others, especially kids, to have other options besides basketball where they can excel at,” Uytengsu said during the opening of the 20th edition of the Alaska Football Cup at Alabang Country Club.

“We didn’t think we would grow like this or make it to 20 years,” said Blen Fernando, vice president for marketing at Alaska. “We don’t come here as a business helping the sport. It’s more the sport helping the business,” she added.

Opening kick by the Alaska Team led by President and CE Fred Uytengsu to officially open the 20th Alaska Football Cup
Opening kick by the Alaska Team led by President and CEO Fred Uytengsu to officially open the 20th Alaska Football Cup

Through its youth sports development programs, Alaska does its part for nation building by helping nourish children so they can be champions in their fields of interest and life in general. By engaging the youth in sports, Alaska helps instill the values of determination, hard work, teamwork, discipline and sportsmanship.


Alaska’s youth sports development programs such as the Alaska Football Cup helps develop champions by promoting the values of determination, hard work, team work, discipline and sportsmanship.

Alaska Milk is perfect for children and adults because it provides long-term benefits that can be maximized when complemented with a healthy diet and exercise, sports and physical activity.

Alaska 20th Football Cup delegates line up for their Alaska milk

Last weekend’s event had 410 teams and a 6,150 players.
When the cup started 20 years ago at the same venue, there were 25 teams and 250 players.
Through the three-day tournament, there were 800 seven-a-side games played in 29 football fields, officiated by over 168 game officials.
Competing teams represented schools and football clubs from Masbate, Baguio, Negros Occidental, Cebu, Davao, Palawan, Legaspi, Laguna, Batangas, Bukidnon, Zambales, Pampanga, Tarlac, Ilocos, Bicol, Romblon, Davao Sur, Compostela Valley, Quezon, Cavite, Albay, Pangasinan, Bacolod, Iloilo, Mindoro and Metro Manila.

alaska football

Fernando attributes the success of the tournament to the professionalism of the organizers.
“There were a lot of adjustments along the way. Tomas had to adjust to the way we wanted things done. He is very passionate about the sport,” said Fernando.

For the first time in its history, Alaska Football Cup gave the opportunity to four teams consisting of people with disabilities to compete in the tournament.
This shows how the tournament has grown in 20 years and how its success is measured not by the accolades it receives but in the enthusiasm of its participants.
“The Alaska Football Cup has reinforced our commitment to use sports and nutrition. These are very important aspects as we want to give kids an opportunity to embrace a healthy lifestyle,” said Uytengsu.

For more information, go to http://alaskapowercamp.com/ or http://www.playph.com/.

@chuvafinds: Adora gift guide 2015

Less than one week before Christmas! I wish I could say I was done gift-shopping, but the hardest people to give gifts to would be certain members of my family. I am not yet done!
Last week I dropped by Adora at Greenbelt 5 to look for gifts for people who have everything.
Here’s what we loved:

1) The camouflage Valentino sneakers (Php 42,800)
It’s great how Valentino became relevant again with its new styles. Though I’m not one to wear the rockstud collection, I do love the colorful camouflage sneakers on men and women, and Adora has them.

Valentino sneakers

2) Stella McCartney shoes (about Php 57,000)
Didn’t know Adora had these! Stella McCarney’s black Britt platform shoes have been on my wish list for some time now. I always look for them when I travel, and they never have it in my size and color.
Couldn’t believe my eyes (and luck) when Adora had it in stock! So yay!! Mine.

Stella McCartney Britt platform shoes

Stella McCartney shoes


3) Pedro Garcia Parson Satin Sneakers (Php 22,800)
Not your typical sneakers. Love the Spanish-made sneakers with the frayed edges and exaggerated laces. Because I like unfinished and comfy looks.

Pedro Garcia shoes

4) Pretty Ballerinas Gwyneth flats (Php 11,800)
Made in Spain, the shoes have been manufactured by the same family in Menorca since 1918. Each shoe style is named after a female screen or music icon, such as the Gwyneth flats, which any girly girl would love.
Fans of Pretty Ballerinas include Angelina Jolie and Olivia Palermo.


5) Alexander McQueen bags (about Php 83,000)
McQueen may be gone, but his name lives on. There’s a whole range at Adora’s new handbag department. I love the simple, boxy shapes.

Alexander McQueen bags

6) Penhaligon’s
For the gentleman who has everything, Adora carries the British perfumer brand Penhaligon’s. They have candles and gift sets for gentlemen, including talcum powder and deodorant. Their packaging says it all.


7) Perfumes and candles by Maison Francis Kurkdjian
Francis Kurkdjian is a French contemporary perfumer and winner of the Prix François Coty in 2001.
Adora carries a range of products and gift items by the fragrance house and everything about it smells like luxury.


Find them at Adora, 2nd level, Greenbelt 5, Makati City.
For more information, go to http://www.adora.ph/

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